Folks, I don't know about you, but I have been shocked by the outpouring of post-election vitriol on my Facebook page. "Friends" of "friends," most of them Southern, have been showing up in huge numbers attempting to re-fight the election battles with me. I have deleted three posts that vaguely threatened the President's life. I have been "unfriended" by almost 40 people and have had to "ban" about 10 for threats or fearsomely awful language.
Trying to figure it out, I think I know at least one reason why. Bear with me for a moment.
There is a tradition in American politics called the "concession speech." An important part of this ritual is that the candidate says he just spoke with the winner and congratulated him on the victory.
The crowd always boos and the candidate says "no, no, wait," then goes on to say that they had a good conversation and that he had pledged to work with the winner of the election for the common good of the country.
Then he urges his supporters to do the same. To support the rightful winner of the election.
Now. Let's look at Mitt Romney's five-minute, hastily-written, tight-lipped, curt "concession" speech, delivered with a grim smile in Boston the other night.
These are the only portions dealing with the President:
I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters.That's almost all. At the end there is this little piece:
This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.
I so wish — I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.Now. Follow me below the Hotte Dogge Francais du Libertad, and we'll see how others have done it.
Here is just SOME of what John McCain had to say in 2008:
A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama to congratulate him.Here's what John Kerry had to say in 2004:
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Sen. Obama believes that, too.
But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.
America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.
Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.
Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
I'm sorry that we got here a little bit late and little bit short.Kerry went on to add:
I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory.
We had a good conversation, and we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need — the desperate need for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together.
Today I hope that we can begin the healing.
I did my best to express my vision and my hopes for America. We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently.Here's what Al Gore said after the nightmare of 2000:
But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans.
That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth.
With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country.
In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion.
I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years.
I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide.
I know this is a difficult time for my supporters, but I ask them, all of you, to join me in doing that. Now, more than ever, with our soldiers in harm's way, we must stand together and succeed in Iraq and win the war on terror.
Good evening. Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States -- and I promised him that I wouldn't call him back this time.And here is Bob Dole in 1996....
I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we just passed. ....
Some have expressed concern that the unusual nature of this election might hamper the next president in the conduct of his office. I do not believe it need be so.
President-elect Bush inherits a nation whose citizens will be ready to assist him in the conduct of his large responsibilities.
I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans--I particularly urge all who stood with us to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done.
And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us.
While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.
As for what I'll do next, I don't know the answer to that one yet. Like many of you, I'm looking forward to spending the holidays with family and old friends. I know I'll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively.
Let me say that I talked to President Clinton. We had a good visit. I congratulated him. And I said. No, no, no. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I've said repeated - I've said repeatedly - wait. I've said repeatedly - I have said repeatedly in this campaign that the president was my opponent not my enemy. And I wish him well and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America, because that's what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.Every single one of these speeches has a particular feature: the moment when the candidate says he will support the winner, and urges his supporters to do the same.
He would not show the President that most basic level of respect.
By disrespecting the President, he satisfied his base.
Some of them were white frat boys at Ole Miss who burned Obama signs and yelled "nigger" at African-American students.
I charge Romney with a graceless, mean-spirited, non-concessionary concession that gave his followers permission to indulge themselves in an acrimony of vitriol and hatred. And so they are. Anyone else having the same experience?